It's been a topsy-turvy season and we've got far too many central midfielders, but with the right gaffer in charge Leicester City fans can dream of the Premier League, just not this season...
What’s going right?
Erm, well… we’re closer to the play off places than we are to the bottom three and we’ve got the right man in charge (see below). We’ve become hard to beat at home (unbeaten in five since the start of November, although the last three games were all 1-1 draws). Oh, and Forest are really in the mire, which is always nice.
In November we changed our manager for the third time since the start of last season (and the 12th time since Martin O’Neill left in 2000). That kind of instability simply doesn’t create an environment for success. The last time we went through something similar was at the start of the 2007/08 season when we had three managers in a matter of months. We didn’t manage two consecutive league wins all season and unsurprisingly we were relegated. So far, we haven’t won two consecutive games this season either (I’m just saying…) and our away form is terrible – before the win against Crystal Palace, we’d lost four of the previous six on the road and only won once away since the opening day.
We’re now currently in a sort of limbo waiting to see what success Nigel Pearson will have in the transfer window and how quickly any players he brings in will settle.
Got the right manager?
Yes, absolutely. With the cash the owners are prepared to chuck about we shouldn’t be in the mess we’re in. Nigel Pearson showed what he could do the last time he was here and if Asian Football Investments, the Thai-based consortium which owns the club, give him time I reckon he’ll finish the job he started a couple of years ago. It just might take him until next season to do so.
As we’re misfiring in so many areas of the pitch at the moment there is not a huge choice for the role of star player to be honest. That said, it would be a disservice to suggest Kasper Schmeichel has got this by default. He makes it crystal clear to his team-mates who controls the area (him); he is an excellent shot-stopper and his distribution is top notch. Of all the signings Eriksson made, this is the standout.
Who would you like to sell in January?
Personally, I’d like shot of Jermaine Beckford. I don’t think he’s the right kind of player we need attitude-wise. We should never have signed him in the first place but it seemed like Sven-Goran Eriksson just couldn’t resist spending another £4.5m less than hour before the transfer deadline (after all, it wasn’t his money, right?). While I appreciate Beckford’s only had four months to settle, is two goals in 17 games a reasonable return for someone who cost that much? Just look what his former Everton team-mate Yakubu did on loan with us last season (11 goals in 20 games) and so far this season at Blackburn (11 in 15).
Of all the signings Eriksson made, Schmeichel is the standout.
Who do you want to sign?
Yakubu (see above). OK, the Venky’s group is mad but they’re not that mad (are they?). Perhaps more importantly, the squad bequeathed to Pearson by Sven-Goran Eriksson is unbalanced with a surplus of central midfielders, which suited the narrow diamond midfield most often employed by the Swede. Pearson, however, favours a more traditional 4-4-2 and so we’re desperately in need of creativity and width especially as the on-loan Swiss midfielder Gelson Fernandes has been inconsistent and has expressed a desire to leave City. Pearson has reportedly gone back to his former club, Hull, but had a bid for 20-year-old winger Cameron Stewart, a former Manchester United player, knocked back. He’s the sort of player we need.
Best chant so far?
Did you see the Portsmouth game on telly on New Year’s Eve??? The King Power Stadium was depressingly quiet – the sound of frustration and unfulfilled expectations. If things turn around in the second half of the season, come back and ask me what the best chant has been.
Best opposition player/team you’ve seen?
Despite a recent sticky patch (just two wins in seven) Southampton have been impressive swatting teams aside like flies up until then. They’d beaten fellow promotion hopefuls Middlesbrough 3-0 and West Ham 1-0. One of the few teams to beat them early on was Leicester (see, it’s not all bad). They have the division’s top scorer in Rickie Lambert and one of the brightest young talents around in Adam Lallana – he confused John Pantsil so much when we played the Saints in August that Pantsil fell over.
Biggest **** of the season so far?
Perhaps he’s an easy target and maybe a lot of the problems we have aren’t his fault but I’ll go for Sven. When he joined the club in September 2010, he inherited a squad that fell at the semi-final hurdle of the play-offs the previous season. The Swede made a few good signings before essentially ripping that team apart and taking us no further forward. First he brought in expensive loan signings and then last summer he spent close to £15m, but without really improving the quality of the squad. For a man with a CV as good as his I think we had the right to expect better. However, to be fair, his club success had never come at this level in the English game. It’s insightful that his best signing, Kasper Schmeichel (see above), was a player he’d worked with at both Manchester City and Notts County – a solid buy based on knowledge, unlike most of the others. So, perhaps instead of Sven, we should point the finger at the people who employed him.
End of season prediction?
To gain automatic promotion we’d need at least 45 points, probably more, from our remaining 25 games. So that ain’t gonna happen. However, the Championship is the kind of division where, if we can hit a run of form from our current position anything can happen. If that form is good, the play-offs are well within reach, perhaps with the kind of momentum-generating run that could take us all the way to the Promised Land (that’s the Premier League). If that form is bad (and let’s face it the Palace win was our first in six games) well, there’s an outside chance we could get sucked into a relegation dog fight, but I doubt we’d actually go down. Would we?
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